NHS Trust dramatically reduces acute kidney injury, with help from AI (from C2-Ai)

A condition linked to thousands of UK deaths has been significantly reduced by healthcare professionals at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, with the help of a new care model, supported by specialist nurses, and developed in partnership with NHS technology provider C2-Ai.

Created to help identify and promptly treat patients in hospital at risk from acute kidney injury, the project has led to a reduction in hospital acquired AKI of more than 80%. It is also enabling a range of other patient safety improvements in and beyond the hospital.  

The model created in County Durham and Darlington could now be adopted in hospitals across the NHS, to help healthcare professionals reduce harm related to AKI, a complication associated with around 100,000 deaths in the UK annually. 

The AI driven model helps staff to detect patients early and respond with appropriate care measures. It combines risk stratification digital tools developed by C2-Ai, accessed by staff through an app, with care processes developed at the trust involving a new specialist nursing team, preventive specialist intervention, assessment and follow-up.  

Jeremy Cundall, medical director for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and executive lead for the project, said: “The partnership has resulted in patients being detected earlier – preventing AKI from occurring or mitigating the worsening of existing AKI. Accordingly, patients have been more effectively triaged to the right pathways of care including referral and transfer to tertiary renal units where appropriate. 

“Importantly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, AKI cases were picked up quickly and appropriate treatment expedited. Since then, there has been a sustained gradual improvement in the reduction in AKI incidence across both medicine and surgery.”   

A reduction in both community and hospital acquired AKI has been observed since the introduction of the new model. Overall AKI incidence at the trust fell from a rate of 6.5% between March and May 2020, to 3.8% during the same period in 2021 – lower than pre-pandemic rates recorded in 2019.  

Importantly the trust significantly reduced hospital acquired AKI, from an average of 44 cases per month in 2019/20 to an average of five cases per month in 2020/21 – representing a reduction of more than 80%. 

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